my story, His doing

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." -Romans 12:2 (ESV)

 

People sometimes ask, "What's your story? Why did you become a Christian?" Many who knew me before I knew Jesus have noted something must have happened, seeing how much the Lord continues to affect me from the inside out. So here's the story of how God made me aware of Himself and brought me to believe in Him.

I grew up attending church as a kid and knew some Bible basics, but this grew into a pretty self-righteous attitude in my late teens. I gradually began dabbling with some new age and occult beliefs, with growing curiosity in the paranormal. In high school, I'd developed an unhealthy interest in the topic of death. In college, I moved into more Eastern and philosophical interests while beginning to hate "organized religion," yet still willing to study them all. My belief system was constantly changing. Often lonely or frustrated, darker lusts took hold to become places of comfort. Focused on my own independence and agendas, I was essentially shaping a god in my own image.


Then one morning in 1997, perhaps inspired by new religious studies, I woke up and decided to "pray." I'd gone from agnostic to all over the religious dial, but on this day talking to God seemed good. I'm not sure exactly what was on my mind, though I seem to recall expressing gratitude for something I'd soon come to regret. However, I do remember my thoughts interrupted with words to the effect of, "Clean yourself up, then we'll talk." As strange as this was, I actually started thinking up my standard excuses, questioning what I was possibly doing wrong, but then distinctly heard, "You know what to do."

Then nothing.

Not just a silence-variety nothing. I mean nothing at all. There was in that moment no sense of God's presence, just complete isolation. And panic. I was terrified. I suppose in all that time of wandering I always had some sense God was "there" in the back of my mind. But this was like a (thankfully) brief taste of hell, showing the destructive distance my sin, living for myself and ignoring God, had created between us.

I remember going through that day in a daze, crying at first, then just wide-eyed and fearful. The weeks to follow were disorienting as I tried to work through what happened and even fought to resist. But as He kept pursuing and I started to understand a little of what knowing God meant, I also started getting rid of stuff that was keeping my focus from Him
things I was reading, watching, doing, listening to, even thinking, which God's Word, The Bible, said had no place in my life once He was in it.

This "clean up" wasn't about working my way to God or simple behavior change. It was about repentance, which is turning from sin and to Him, responding to His love in obedience, and even being set apart for and protected by Him. And it wasn't all about giving up things I loved, as many of those old things started losing their appeal. Trust me, the struggle is still real in some areas, and I would never have done this in my own power. But He was right, now I did know what to do, and His Spirit was ready to help. God's Law really was written on my heart, but I was blind to it until He let me see.
 


I once thought I "gave my heart to Christ" as a child. Later in life I thought I was "okay" just because there were certain behaviors I didn't do. But a while after this confrontation I came to truly believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and was baptized January 9 of 1998. I finally began to understand things I'd heard and even studied academically—that Jesus more than answered all those empty philosophies and desires, and that His perfect life, death and resurrection are what saved me from an eternity apart from Him. On the cross Jesus entered fully into that isolation I once sensed so I could spend eternity in the joy of His presence, and I'm so thankful I can now enjoy talking to Him any time. 

Of course life isn't without its trials now, and I certainly can't make up for ignoring God in my past. Thanks to Jesus I don't have to, but I do praise Him for His mercy and want to give Him the glory for all this, in part by telling you who He is and what He's done.

Mine might be considered an unusual story by some. I've never had such an experience before or since. But I'm nothing amazing, and I'm far from perfect. The transformation in my life is still happening, and is only by the grace and mercy of God. I pray you and your loved ones also experience the joy of this saving grace, which can be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

For further discussion, please read "the small, still whisper."

Photo: Unsplash.com